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News Briefs II

Microsoft Presses Court Attack on Rivals

The Washington Post

Raising its bet that the best defense is a good offense, Microsoft Corp. Thursday gave a federal judge new documents that it said backed up earlier claims that two key rivals attempted to collude on Internet technologies.

A lawyer for the Justice Department, which has brought Microsoft to court on antitrust charges, countered that the two firms, America Online Inc. and Netscape Communications Corp., simply were trying to create "a more level playing field" for competition with Microsoft.

In court Thursday, Microsoft's lead attorney produced a January 1996 memo from AOL's chief executive, Steve Case, detailing a conversation he had had with James Barksdale, Netscape's chief executive. At the time, Case and Barksdale had been discussing a deal in which AOL would use Netscape's Internet "browsing" software.

Microsoft contends that Case was concerned at the same time that Netscape could begin competing with AOL. As a way of assuring that the companies stayed out of each other's way, Microsoft said, Case proposed in one meeting that AOL might get a seat on Netscape's board.

In the memo, Case wrote: "I told (Barksdale) if there was indeed no board seat, we would have to completely run their (World Wide Web) site so there is no risk of contention there. He seemed to prefer that scenario. I think getting the entire Web site under our management control and keeping them completely out of the Web service business would be better for us."

Slot Machine Interest Pours Money into Md. Campaign

The Washington Post

An international hotel and casino company that wants Maryland's next governor to legalize slot machines at state racetracks gave $250,000 to the Republican National Committee days before the organization started running a blistering ad campaign targeting Gov. Parris N. Glendening, an opponent of slots.

Representatives of Hilton Hotels Corp., which owns a horse track on Maryland's Eastern Shore, hand-delivered the money to the RNC in the last week, according to sources familiar with the donation. The sources said the gift was brokered in part by Joseph A. De Francis, co-owner of Pimlico and Laurel racetracks, whose companies also have given the RNC at least $250,000 since Sept. 29.

The donations arrived at the RNC days after the close of the last reporting period, and just as the committee prepared an advertising campaign in the Washington and Baltimore markets attacking Glendening, a Democrat, for helping build two football stadiums with public money. The RNC initially bought $300,000 worth of air time.